To the editor:
Well almost everyone of course. Mom, Dad, friends, teachers, aunts, uncles and spouses. Right?
But there are people in all of our lives whom we should think of first. And thank with some sense of urgency. They are the elderly people in our lives. Grandmothers, grandfathers, older aunts and uncles, former teachers, coaches, doctors, and yes, lawyers, as well as tradespeople, even the person who cut your hair when you were a child. Everyone who is 75 or older. And the older they are, the greater the urgency.
How do you thank them? Follow your best instincts but do not hesitate to take advice. If they are in a retirement home - bring them something good to eat - but do not stay too long. Same for hospitals - stay as long as they are comfortable - be prepared to go quickly if they are not.
If they are living at home and in relatively good health - a call is fine - and an email or even a text message. But say something specific, something that will help them remember you - some event, problem or incident you shared. Keep it light if you can.
Speak rather slowly and distinctly - and *enunciate*, especially if they are very old. Do not speak too loudly because they don’t need that. Or if they do they will tell you.
Holding someone’s hand is nice - it suggests kindness, tenderness, and intimacy in an appropriate way. For a relative: a grandmother or grandfather who is very old, a kiss on the forehead is acceptable to most people.
All this advice is for younger people - and most of it is obvious and not needed. The main thing is to make time and make the thank you a priority. You will be so happy you did it when the person eventually or even suddenly passes away. This isn’t about doing it perfectly or getting to everyone on some list. It is about following our better instincts. The better angels of or nature as Lincoln so aptly put it.
A thank you is really a form of appreciation. People need to be appreciated. But our need to show appreciation is even greater - it makes us better people - more humble, more peaceful, and more content. It reminds us what is truly important in this life - especially around holiday times. When some of our neighbors, friends, and family may be alone and in need of company.
Anyone who is sick, in the hospital, jails, living alone, or just lonely, could be added to your list.
- Jim Turner, Fairfield